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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Daniel Chirot
SIS 465
Seattle Campus

Deeply Divided Societies

Ethnic conflict seen from two perspectives: 1. the study of theoretical approaches as a means of understanding deeply divided societies; 2. a focus on one or more specific conflicts. Recommended: SIS 201 or POL S 204.

Class description

Ethnic, nationalist, and religious conflicts are at the heart of most of the seriously contentious political situations in today's world. From civil and international wars in Africa, to the multi-faceted conflicts in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, to the endless Israeli-Palestinian struggle, and even to such peaceful but still highly contentious cases as the slow disintegration of the Belgian state, these kinds of problems are at the heart of what is wrong in deeply divided societies. It is often hard to distinguish between ethnic, religious, or nationalist identities because they often, but not always overlap. And yet, we must not forget that many such identities do not produce conflict, and in some cases past conflicts have been peacefully resolved. This course will look at some important cases of identity based conflicts as well as many cases that could have but did not wind up deeply dividing societies. By the end of the course students will possess a good understanding of why, in some cases, different identities within societies sometimes but not always produce conflict, and why some conflicts are relatively mild while others become extremely deadly.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

Students will write very short papers -- 1 to 2 pages long, about six of the books they read in this course. These will make up 60% of the grade. Class discussion will be encouraged and will count as 10% of the grade. There will also be lectures and a few films will be shown. At the end of the quarter there will be a final exam that will count as 30% of the grade.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by M Jane Meyerding
Date: 01/25/2011